How Martha Stewart keeps fit in her 80s – as she becomes Sports Illustrated’s oldest cover star 

As US television personality and businesswoman Martha Stewart graces the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, we reveal her daily routine that prioritises exercise and mental health.

At 81 years old, Martha Stewart has appeared on the cover of the famous swimwear edition of US magazine Sports Illustrated. She joins a list of other female celebrities who have posed for the magazine, including fellow 2023 models actress Megan Fox and singer Kim Petras, and former cover stars such as Beyoncé.  

Stewart has become the oldest ever Sports Illustrated cover star, taking the crown from Elon Musk’s mother, model Maye Musk, who posed for the swimsuit edition last year, aged 74.  

The author of many cookbooks and publisher of Martha Stewart Living magazine (which ran from its launch in 1990 to May 2022, when it closed), Stewart has also hosted two successful TV shows in the US.

Stewart has always focused on encouraging people to make the best of their surroundings, embrace opportunity and enhance their wellbeing. But how does she incorporate these values into her own daily life?  

We’ve got all the details on how Stewart stays fit and well – both physically and mentally – including the workouts she enjoys and the healthy meals she swears by.

How Martha Stewart keeps fit – including cardio and strength training

Stewart is a big lover of the outdoors and spends a lot of time caring for her animals. She also loves to garden and grows a lot of her own food. Writing on her website in 2021, she explained that the benefit of outdoor exercise was instilled in her from a young age: “My parents taught me and my siblings positive habits early on, encouraging daily exercise (we walked and rode our bikes, instead of being driven).  

“I passed these practices on to my daughter, who now does the same with my grandchildren. 

She added: “To feel my best, no matter how busy I am, I exercise each morning.” 

At Exceptional, we’re big fans of daily movement, whether that’s walking, cardio exercise, yoga, running or other forms of exercise. 

Stewart is fortunate enough to have her own gym at home, which has a Peloton bike for cardio, as well as hand weights, exercise balls and machines for strength training. Staying strong and maintaining muscle mass is crucial as we age. Not only does it protect us against many diseases and health conditions, it also keeps us looking younger. 

Martha Stewart loves horse riding

Stewart is a big fan of riding her horses: “I ride my horses weekly, even in cold weather. It’s terrific exercise and being outside is good for the spirit,” she says.

Exceptional’s Fitness, Passions & Getting Active editor, Phillipa Cherryson, agrees: “For me, nothing beats being outdoors and in nature at any time of the year – whether it’s hiking in the hills or taking my Arab gelding, Gus, for a canter through the woods.” 

Martha StewartCredit: Shutterstock / Lev Radin
Martha Stewart focuses on wellness

Pilates keeps Martha Stewart strong

Speaking on the Today show in the US, Stewart revealed she attended Pilates sessions to prepare for the Sports Illustrated shoot: “I went to Pilates every other day and that was great; I’m still going to Pilates every other day ‘cause it’s so great.” 

She added: “I live a clean life anyway — good diet and good exercise and healthy skincare and all of that stuff.” 

Speaking to Exceptional, Pilates expert Rachel Lawrence explained that Pilates is a great way of improving flexibility while getting stronger: “Pilates is a superb way to stay fit, flexible and strong as you age. What a lot of people don’t realise is how strong you can get.  

“It strengthens both the small and large muscle groups and especially the muscles of the spine and core, which improves posture and muscle tone. The health benefits are a mobile, flexible and strong body. As we age, it’s vital to use all our muscles and not shy away from these challenges. As the saying goes,Use it or lose it!’” 

She prioritises mental wellbeing

“For me, doing the things that bring me happiness is most important for my long-term, overall wellness,” Stewart says. This includes gardening – a huge passion for her, and something that can be incredibly therapeutic. Not only that, but it can be a great form of exercise – you can get fit with just 30 minutes of gardening.  

Although Stewart has admitted she doesn’t always feel like exercising, she attests to always feeling better afterwards, and says her gym is the place where she can “get my mind right for the day ahead”. She is also a fan of brain-boosting puzzles to keep the grey matter sharp – check out our own puzzle page here if you’d like to give some a go.  

Whatever your choice of exercise, doing something you enjoy will naturally boost your mood, increase confidence, and give you more energy. Being outdoors releases endorphins – giving a feel-good boost to your wellbeing.  

“Being outside, whatever the weather, is a boost for my mental health,” Cherryson says. “I didn’t look as good in a swimsuit as Martha Stewart, even when I was in my twenties, and I certainly won’t when I reach my eighties, but she’s such an inspiration.

“What matters most is staying active, happy and feeling good about yourself – and that is what she embodies.” 

Glass of green juiceCredit: Shutterstock / pilipphoto
Martha Stewart enjoys a glass of green juice each morning

Martha Stewart’s diet

A renowned cook, Stewart loves a nice dinner with friends, but her daily diet is relatively simple. She starts each day with a green juice she makes herself, which includes parsley, cucumber, mint, half an orange (including the skin), ginger, and whatever fruit she has growing. She also loves a cappuccino.  

Lunch is something light, such as a tuna salad or an omelette, and dinner is when she cooks for a group, enjoying crowd-pleasing food such as roast chicken.  

Despite her love of cooking, Stewart has admitted her fridge stays relatively bare, though eggs and good quality butter are a must. With all that home-grown produce, though, she’s never short of healthy options.

She embraces new challenges

The theme of this year’s Sportswear Illustrated swimwear issue is celebrating powerful women who “live in a world where they feel no limitations, internally or externally”. Stewart embodies that.  

Talking about the shoot, she admitted it’s something new to her. “That was kind of a request that I’ve never had before,” Stewart recalled on the Today Show. “To be on the cover at my age was a challenge. And I think I met the challenge.”  

Becky Fuller

Written by Becky Fuller she/her

Published:

Becky Fuller is a Staff Writer for Fitness at Exceptional. Becky is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, specialising in strength and conditioning for over 50s. Becky is passionate about Kettlebell training, and runs a regular kettlebell club in the local community. Prior to this, she worked as a Fitness manager in a local gym. Becky’s focus is helping people to become stronger both in body and mind, and to move well without pain.

Becky also has many years’ experience working as a freelance journalist, writing for a wide variety of publications such as Screen Rant, Geek Feed, and Daily Actor. She also regularly reviews theatre productions for UKTW.

Away from work, Becky unsurprisingly enjoys exercise, with a focus on lifting weights, kettlebells, and Olympic rings. She loves watching theatre, swimming, and reading a good book. She has three teenage children and enjoys spending time with them, preferably on a Cornish beach.

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